Ergon Energy is working closely with government and industry to create an electric vehicle (EV) highway with Australia’s first solar-powered charging station in Townsville (QLD).

With new analysis commissioned by the Energy Supply Association of Australia (esaa), released recently that found there could be almost 1 million electric and natural gas vehicles on our roads by 2025, Queensland is EV ready and has developed a strategy to enable the deployment of EVs across our network.

Through Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) and with our support, the State Government is seeking expressions of interest to build a service station in the Townsville suburb of Oonoonba that has both traditional and alternative forms of energy.

The announcement made in Townsville recently, attracted local Tesla owner Kosh Hazratwala and the Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland Coralee O’Rourke pictured above.

Oonoonba is less than three kilometres from the Bruce Highway and the Townsville CBD and is well positioned to cater for local motorists as well as those travelling along the highway.

The development would allow motorists to fill their car with fuel at a standard bowser or plug in their electric car for fast-charging.

Up to two electric vehicles could be charged at the same time, with an expected average charge time of 15-30 minutes.

Ergon will offer the business owner the opportunity to sign up to its business solar service which will avoid the need for up-front costs and provide access to 25 kilowatts of solar panels while and EDQ will provide support for EV charger equipment leasing.

We understand that for small businesses, pioneering a new technology can be expensive, so we have developed a business model to help reduce costs.

Carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles are growing and electric or hybrid vehicles are a step in the right direction to reduce them.

Transport accounted for 15 per cent of Australia’s emissions in 2012 and transport emissions have increased by 21 per cent since 2000. Road transport and in particular light vehicles are the main source and an uptake of hybrid and electric vehicles will reduce our emissions particularly when teamed with solar as an energy source.

Electric cars are already on our roads – in fact about 300 in Queensland and 2400 nationally between 2010 – 2015.

The ESAA’s research appears to support the thinking the number of EVs on our roads is only going to increase because of a changing paradigm, consumer interest and demand and perhaps over time, Government policies that support EV uptake.

But that would be dependent upon cost – effective policies to encourage more people to buy the cars and bring net economic benefits at minimal cost.

Either way, the future is charged and charging infrastructure will be a key factor for future EV uptake. And that’s why the Townsville charging point could be the first of many along the Queensland coast stretching from Brisbane to Cairns in coming years.

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